|Bobby Valentine is happy Carl Crawford showed fans he’s still ‘a very good player’||08.21.12 at 9:32 pm ET|
Carl Crawford is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his left elbow Thursday.
On Tuesday, Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine said he feels very happy that Crawford got a chance to show his value to a fan base that has doubted his abilities ever since he signed his seven-year, $142 million deal before the 2011 season.
“We’ll miss Carl. I’m really happy Carl got the games in that he got in,” Valentine said of Crawford’s 31 games in 2012. “I’m really happy he had the success that he had. I think Carl now can feel that at least he showed the fans in at least a small way but in an everyday way that he’s a very good player. And I think he needed to do that.”
Crawford, indeed, showed he can still perform at a high level, batting .282 in those 31 games with three homers and 19 RBIs. His OBP was .306 and his slugging percentage was a respectable .479. Perhaps most impressive is the fact he scored 23 runs in his 31 games dating back to his first game back on July 16 against the White Sox.
Position players like Mike Aviles have said they could recover from Tommy John surgery in seven months but full strength really doesn’t start to come back until nine months out, which begs the question: Was coming back for a month to show fans he can still be a good player really worth it if it means missing part of 2013?
“I guess if that happens to be the case later,” Valentine said. “That wasn’t part of the plan. But if that’s what it is, yeah, it’s a good trade-off.”
Now, Valentine’s situation is back to exactly where it was when the season began – filling in left field without Carl Crawford.
“I guess I see it like when Carl was out prior,” Valentine said. “Luckily, Daniel Nava was just about finished with his rehab, we have Daniel, we have Scott Podsednik and they’ll do just fine. They’re good players.”
|Bobby Valentine on Randy Niemann: ‘What he brings is what is needed… a stabilizing force’||at 7:34 pm ET|
Now that the Red Sox have made a change at the pitching coach position, what’s next?
The answer comes in the name of Randy Niemann, a former Met who did not play for Bobby Valentine but rather was a bullpen coach in the Mets organization when Valentine was there in the late 90s and 2000s.
Now, Niemann, who came onto Valentine’s staff this year as a pitching staff assistant, will be charged with significantly more responsibility as Bob McClure‘s replacement. So, Valentine is not worried about any significant transition.
“Since Randy’s been here, I’m not sure that idea really applies,” Valentine said Tuesday. “And he did it for a few weeks without a wrinkle. I think of him as one of this year’s pitching coaches right from the beginning.”
Niemann has filled in this year when Bob McClure had to take a personal leave of absence and early in the season when bullpen coach Gary Tuck was recovering from a double hernia.
“He just has a common sense approach to things. He’s worked with all the guys on rehab this year,” Valentine said. “He’s been totally in charge of that so I think they understand that he understands the throwing motion. He was in the bullpen for a couple of weeks when Gary wasn’t here so the relievers got to know him a little during game situations. He was in the dugout for a couple of weeks when Bob wasn’t here. I think what he brings is what is needed, a nice stabilizing force.
“Gary Tuck is kind of a constant, too. I think he’ll take a little role in this whole six-week project, too. It’ll be OK for the pitchers, I believe.”
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Orioles matchups: Clay Buchholz vs. Chris Tillman||08.16.12 at 9:41 am ET|
Clay Buchholz gets the start Thursday night at Camden Yards as the Red Sox wrap up their four-game series against the Orioles. The start comes just one day shy of the five-year anniversary of Buchholz’s major league debut in 2007.
After spending much of April and May with the highest ERA in the majors, the 28-year-old has been Boston’s best starting pitcher for more than two months, leading the team in wins (10), ERA (4.24) and WHIP (1.28).
The Sox have won eight of Buchholz’s 10 starts since the end of May and the righty is coming off his best performance of the year: a complete game in which he allowed just two hits and one earned run en route to a 3-2 win over the Indians.
In his three previous starts against the Orioles this season, Buchholz is 1-0 with a 5.00 ERA. The Sox won in his only start at Camden Yards this year, though Buchholz struggled, giving up five earned runs in 5 1/3 innings.
In 119 career at-bats, the current Orioles lineup is hitting just .210 against Buchholz, though five of their 25 hits have been for home runs. J.J. Hardy has been particularly successful against Buchholz, recording four hits, two homers and three RBIs in 10 at-bats.
Taking the mound for Baltimore Thursday is Chris Tillman. The 6-foot-5 righty boasts a 3.40 ERA along with a 5-2 record in just seven starts.
Tillman was called up from the minors on July 4 for a start against the Mariners, and in his season debut he carried a one-hit shutout into the ninth inning before he was removed with one out and two men on base.
Against Boston, Tillman has not had nearly the same success. In two career games against the Sox, Tillman is 0-1 with a 5.68 ERA. The six Boston players with plate appearances against Tillman are hitting a collective .464.
|Bobby Valentine on The Big Show: ‘I go through things with open eyes’||08.15.12 at 4:02 pm ET|
To listen to the interview, go to The Big Show audio on demand page.
Asked if he has backed off in his managerial approach, Valentine said, “I don’t know. Again its that idea of making adjustments. I’ve been advised. I’m not a dummy. I go through things with open eyes. I’m trying to figure out, and again, this is four months into a very trying situation and I’m trying to figure out what works best to get the results we need.”
As for whether he feels has control of his team, Valentine said, “As far as how high we wear out pants or any of that stuff, I don’t need those kinds of controls. I think we’re working on a situation, an organizational structure, a team structure that could be as functional as possible as we go forward, day by day.’
Valentine said it was his job to focus the team on the task at hand, but acknowledged that the scrutiny wears on the players.
“I think there is a lot of emotion flying around here these days,” Valentine said. “One of the things I was discussing with one of the players was that all of this noise is one of the reasons players don’t want to sign here, because they don’t have to deal with this in other markets. They don’t worry about the drama of the day. They can just go out and play baseball.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Indians matchups: Felix Doubront vs. Ubaldo Jimenez||08.09.12 at 10:03 am ET|
Having dropped six of their last eight after Wednesday’s 10-9 loss to Texas, the Red Sox hit the road in desperate need of a turnaround. Boston kicks off a crucial 10-game road trip with the first of four against the Indians Thursday night. Felix Doubront gets the start.
At 10-5 in 21 starts, Doubront has been Boston’s most reliable starter this season but has struggled of late. The 24-year-old has given up at least five runs and failed to last more than five innings in two of his last three starts, raising his ERA to a season-high 4.56.
Cleveland, however, might be just what the doctor ordered. The Indians are a major league-worst 11-24 against lefty starters this year and Doubront is no exception. The lefty has faced Cleveland just once in his young career, that coming back on May 12 in Boston, when he held the Tribe to just one run on three hits en route to a 4-1 Sox win.
With just 24 plate appearances against Doubront, the current Indians lineup is hitting a combined .136, with no home runs and a single RBI.
Taking the mound opposite Doubront will be Ubaldo Jimenez (8-11). The 28-year-old has struggled this year, posting a 5.29 ERA, more than a full run higher than his career mark of 3.95.
Jimenez has pitched even worse of late, as the righty is 0-4 with an 8.42 ERA in his last five starts and hasn’t won since before the All-Star break, when he beat the Rays on July 7.
In his last outing against Boston, Jimenez allowed seven runs and walked five in just 4 1/3 innings at Fenway on May 11. In his only other start against the Sox, the former All-Star gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings June 23, 2010, while pitching for Colorado.
The current Sox lineup however, is hitting just .208 in 53 at-bats against Jimenez, but boasts a much more respectable .354 on-base-percentage.
|‘The clock is ticking’ on these Red Sox||08.05.12 at 10:07 am ET|
After the most devastating loss of the season, the harsh reality finally started to set in last night for the Red Sox. They are going to need a miraculous turnaround to make a postseason run.
Do the Red Sox feel the desperation?
“It’s a pretty harsh term,” Kelly Shoppach said after the nightmarish 6-4 loss to the Twins. “I’m not a big fan of desperation but we understand we need to win. We need to do things that we can do well and I think if we do those things, we’ll have a chance to win every night.”
The irony is they have two players who were on the two teams that completed such a miraculous run just last year.
Shoppach and Nick Punto were on the Rays and Cardinals, respectively.
The Rays caught the Red Sox, who were 10 1/2 games up in the wild card in early September. The Cardinals caught the Braves, who were 9 1/2 games up in the National League wild card in the same time frame.
The 2012 Red Sox have a lot more leeway. They are five games out of the wild card and in a format that allows an extra team to make the playoffs in each league. And Shoppach believes there is still time and plenty of talent in the clubhouse.
“Sure, sure I do,” he said. “This is one of the most talented teams I’ve ever been on. A lot of ups and downs throughout the season. We need an extended up.”
But don’t ask Shoppach to relieve 2011, even though he was on the winning side of things.
“I’m not talking about it,” he said.
Punto, on the other hand, thought the comparison was a good one.
“We were a mediocre team last year,” Punto said of the Cardinals. “In St. Louis, we were mediocre team team until September and we went on a really nice run, got some help from Atlanta and somehow came back from a 9 1/2 game deficit. The similarities here are very similar. We’re very mediocre. We’re not playing good baseball. We have the talent in the room to do it. We just haven’t so we need to know we need to go on this run. The clock’s ticking so it’s time to start playing good baseball.”
Still, the silence in the Red Sox clubhouse after Saturday’s game reflected just how shocked they are to find themselves 53-55 and falling fast in the playoff picture.
“I think just as surprised as everyone else,” Punto said.
|Thursday’s Red Sox-Twins matchup: Jon Lester vs. Samuel Deduno||08.02.12 at 10:00 am ET|
The Red Sox welcome the struggling Twins to Fenway Thursday night for the first in a four-game series.
Jon Lester (5-8, 5.49) will take the mound for Boston, looking to rebound from an atrocious July in which the 28-year-old posted a 9.36 ERA. After kicking off the month with a strong outing in Oakland, allowing just one run over 6 2/3 innings, Lester has given up at least four runs and failed to make it past the sixth inning in each of his last four starts.
In 21 games with their nominal ace on the mound, the Sox are a disappointing 8-13. Particularly troubling however, have been Lester’s struggles at home this season, where he is just 2-6 with a 7.39 ERA in 12 games. That’s unusual for Lester. In the three seasons prior to 2012, he has been essentially the same at home as on the road. If anything, he’s actually been better at Fenway, with a 3.34 ERA compared to his 3.40 on the road.
His struggles, however, have not been limited to Boston this year. On April 23 in Minnesota, for instance, in his one and only start against the Twins, Lester allowed five earned in seven innings, though the Sox pulled out a 6-5 win. Collectively, Minnesota’s current lineup is hitting .282 with an impressive .413 on-base-percentage in 104 plate appearances against the lefty. While Lester has surrendered just two home runs, the Twins have gotten to him in other ways, boasting more RBIs (17) and walks (17) than strikeouts (14).
Red Sox fans can take heart, however, in knowing that the Twins enter Wednesday with the worst run differential in the American League (minus-84) and plan to send a 29-year-old rookie with just 28 innings of big league pitching experience to the hill Thursday night. After pitching 2 2/3 innings in relief for the Rockies in 2010 and three innings for Padres last year, Samuel Deduno (2-0, 3.13) has made four straight starts for Minnesota, earning wins in his last two outings.
Deduno struggles with his control, but when he can command it he has an excellent curveball, which he throws nearly a 30 percent of the time. The right-hander’s curve is also his out pitch, accounting for an incredible 75 percent of pitches in two-strike counts. He also features a fastball in the low 90s and a slider, which account for 41 percent and 23 percent of his pitches, respectively.
Deduno has not faced any current Red Sox hitters.
The second wild card in each league has drastically changed the landscape of hopeful playoff contenders around big league baseball.
Take the Red Sox, for example.
After their 7-5 loss to the Tigers, they fell back to one game over .500 at 53-52 but still remain within striking distance of a playoff spot in the American League. They are just two games back of the Tigers (55-50) and both teams feel they have what it takes to overcome the Angels and Athletics.
But more to the point, the Red Sox have followed up a 1-6 stretch by winning consecutive series over the AL East-leading Yankees and the Tigers. Before getting swept at home by Toronto, they also had taken 3-of-4 from the White Sox, the leaders of the AL Central. That’s cause enough for hope and optimism from Red Sox skipper Bobby Valentine.
“I was real proud of the way the guys battled that game,” he said after Wednesday’s loss. “That’s another series we win. Win a couple of series against tough teams, that’s Yankees and Detroit. Keep winning series and we’ll be just fine.”
“You don’t expect to win every game from here on out, obviously, but we have to win every series,” Saltalamacchia said. “That’s something we definitely have to do. Just continue to keep going. Every win counts, especially at this point, so we just have to continue to go. We have a lot of games against our division.”
Since the All-Star break, the Red Sox have been what they’ve been all season – a .500 team showing occasional signs of breaking out against good teams. They are 10-9 in the 19 games since heading into the break with their worst mark since 1997. That ’97 team never got itself on track in the second half while this team has an extra wild card to shoot for.
“Definitely, when you have that extra wild card, it definitely plays a factor in everything you do,” Saltalamacchia said. “Every win counts. We saw that last year. One win kept us out of the playoffs. So, at this point, that’s what we’re looking at. One win is what we need, and then we have to go for the next one and the next one. I think that does help in a way, especially where we’re at now. We have to keep winning.”
|‘Firecracker’ Dustin Pedroia puts a charge into Red Sox at just the right time||07.30.12 at 11:55 pm ET|
Forget the trade deadline for a moment.
As a matter of fact, he may be one of the key reasons Red Sox management believes they have a legitimate shot at making a postseason run.
With Monday’s game tied, 2-2, with the Tigers, one of the many teams ahead of the Red Sox in the AL wild card chase, Pedroia took a Max Scherzer fastball and crushed it over the Green Monster, with Carl Crawford aboard. The Red Sox led 4-2 and would not look back in a 7-3 win Monday night.
“I just try to get a good pitch to hit,” Pedroia said. “He was tough. He was on the corners. He’s got great stuff and I was just trying to get a pitch I could handle and get the barrel on it.”
Pedroia’s ninth homer of 2012 came in his 800th major league game and his first at Fenway since May 10. He has homered in three of his last five games and has four long balls in July after none in his previous 40 games.
“I feel good, I feel good,” Pedroia said. “I just have to keep going. It’s a long year and we have a long way to go. I’m just concentrating on helping the team win ball games.”
Pedroia’s not just helping the Sox win games, he getting the team revved up, just like he promised early in the season, just like he called out his teammates after losing Friday night in New York. He’s not letting his team take anything lightly. And they’re paying attention.
“It’s awesome,” said Will Middlebrooks, who followed suit with a two-run shot of his own in the eighth. “It’s gets him fired up. And when he gets fired up, we get fired up so it’s been fun to watch. More than you know. He’s a firecracker. So, it’s fun to have a guy like that. It pushed everybody.”
The Red Sox sit 52-51, again over .500 and again with a flicker of hope that their season won’t flame out like a Roman candle.
“We just have to play hard, keep playing. We’ll look up at the end and see where we’re at,” Pedroia said, adding he’s going to spend time with his soon-to-be three-year-old son, Dylan, and not pay attention to trade rumors in the next 12 hours.
“I’m not going to go home and stare at the TV or anything,” Pedroia said. “I have to go play with some “Thomas The Train” and stuff like that.”
Bobby Valentine hinted Monday that he is hopeful that slugger David Ortiz could return from a strained right Achilles injury by the end of the week, despite a setback over the weekend in his strength and conditioning program. Ortiz told ESPN that he could not complete agility drills for his feet and instead had to take to running in a swimming pool for treatment and therapy on his right foot.
Ortiz, who leads the Red Sox in homers (23) and slugging (.609) and OPS (1.015), injured himself on July 16 while rounding second base on an eighth-inning, go-ahead homer by Adrian Gonzalez. He was placed on the disabled list the next day and is eligible to come off on Wednesday.
“I don’t know if it was ever on goal,” Valentine said of Ortiz coming off the DL after 15 days. “Whenever he’s ready. He’s running in the pool and we’ll take it from there. He’s not far away but I don’t know that Wednesday is the magical day but it will be sometime soon. He’s swinging OK. It doesn’t seem like he’s lost a lot of his rhythm or strength or timing. But he’s only at about 80 percent because he’s trying to keep away from making the situation any worse.”
As for not performing the agility test, Valentine said the team was using precaution after Ortiz reported soreness.
“A little sore [Saturday],” Valentine said. “That’s why he went to the pool today to do that running routine.”
Infielder Mike Aviles continues to nurse turf-toe, with the team deciding not to place him on the disabled list.
“Mike’s dealing with a turf toe,” Valentine said. “It’s not a life-threatening situation but it sure is an incumberance. We’re just trying to see what we can do to get that feeling out of there.
“It’s not fun to deal with. The less he strains it in the athletic motions of playing, the better it can calm down. If it calms down, we’ll have a 100 percent Mike back. He could play the game, go in in an emergency, pinch-hit, do all those things. We wouldn’t pinch-run him necessarily but he could if we had to.”
The news did not seem as encouraging on Scott Atchison, the Red Sox right-handed reliever who allowed three runs in his rehab outing Friday night in Pawtucket. The next day he reported soreness in his right forearm. When he went on the disabled list on July 15, he was 2-1 with a 1.76 ERA in 37 games.
“He had an MRI today and we’re waiting on the results,” Valentine said. “It seemed like he went in with a forearm and it moved back, up closer to the elbow. It seemed like 15 days ago it was just going to be he needed just a couple of days rest. And then we gave him a lot of rest, and then when he threw, it didn’t feel good the next day.” Read the rest of this entry »
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